Free energy calculations for eight enol isomers of malonaldehyde (MA) and simulation of the ultraviolet (UV) absorption spectrum in both the gas phase and water (pH = 3, where the molecule exists in neutral undeprotonated form) show that in water the two s-trans nonchelated enol conformers of MA become thermodynamically more stable than the internally hydrogen-bonded ("chelated enol") conformer (CE). The pure CE conformer in water has a slightly red-shifted UV spectrum with respect to that in the gas phase, but the blue-shifted spectrum observed in water at pH 3 is dominated by solvent-stabilized conformations that have negligible populations in the gas phase. Density functional calculations with the solvation model based on density (SMD) and an ensemble-averaged vertical excitation model explain the experimental observations in detail.
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© 2015 American Chemical Society.